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New Golden Retriever Puppy Checklist

Because of their intelligent, gentle, and trainable personalities, golden retrievers are one of America’s favorite dogs, and they make excellent pets for any sized family.

Although Golden puppies are famous for their easygoing personalities, that doesn’t mean they’re different from other puppy breeds. As with any puppy, there’s plenty of planning, prepping, and shopping to do beforehand to ensure the best possible experience for your family and your new pet. 

If you’re bringing a Golden Retriever puppy home to your family, here’s what you need to do before and after the adoption (plus, what to look for in a quality breeder).

Puppy Checklist, Part One: Before Puppy Comes Home

Boy hugging Golden Retriever

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Golden Retriever Puppy Supplies: What You’ll Need to Buy

Health Essentials

Collar, Leash, Harness, and Dog Tags

Although your pup may not be able to go on full neighborhood walks at a young age, it’s a good idea to get him used to the concept of wearing a collar, leash, and dog tags. 

However, avoid retractable leashes whenever possible: Although they seem easier during walks, retractable leashes are actually dangerous, especially for young puppies who are still getting the hang of walking on a leash. Keep your puppy on a regular leash with a maximum of six feet of space between you both.

Snowy Pines recommends slip leads: Slip leads are what puppies are taught to walk on from a young age at Snowy Pines, since they give you as the walker more control over the puppy as he gets the hang of normal walks. You also don’t have to worry about your puppy slipping out of their collars if they get frightened.

On your pup’s collar, the  dog tags should state his name, home address, and phone number. You can also opt for an embroidered collar if your puppy seems bothered by the noise or extra weight of the dog tags. Many puppy owners choose embroidered collars since dog tags should be removed when the puppy is left alone as they can pose a hazard. 

Food and Water Bowls

Your puppy is so young that you’ll be feeding him measured portions throughout the day. You can stick with a small food and water bowl. Snowy Pines recommends glass or stainless steel bowls since they’re not porous. If you’d like, you can also choose stimulating alternatives like a slow-feeder bowl.

Puppy Food

Your puppy will need high-quality food to grow strong! You can also check out our puppy feeding guide to learn more about how much food you’ll need.

Feeding Guide For Golden Retriever

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Crate and Dog Bed

It’s always a good idea to have a designated spot for your puppy to nap and sleep. In most cases, this means his own dog crate. A good dog crate should be large enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably. However, the crate shouldn’t be large enough for him to potty in and have space to move away from it since this will discourage him from going outside when he needs to go. 

You can choose a crate that expands as it grows to save money in the long run. Most of our puppies at Snowy Pines will do well in a 42-inch wire kennel with a divider that you can remove once he gets bigger. We recommend using an elevated dog bed since they’re easy to clean and distribute the puppy’s pressure evenly. Be sure to check out our dog bed reviews too!

Dog Toys and Playtime Essentials

Whether you’re a new or seasoned puppy owner, you know how important toys are! 

You’ll want a variety of different toys for your puppy to keep his interest and help him develop motor skills that are critical for development. Chew toys will also help deter your puppy from chewing on things he shouldn’t, like shoes or furniture. 

Remember that most toys should not be left alone with your puppy since unsupervised playtime can lead to a choking or blockage incident. 

Golden Retriever playing with toy

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Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys keep your pup mentally stimulated while they also have fun. Additionally, these interactive toys provide help with weight management, satisfy natural hunting instincts, and even relieve feelings of stress or anxiety. And, of course, they give your pup a job to do, which fulfills a Retriever’s natural instincts!

Chew Toys

Providing chew toys helps teach your pup what’s appropriate to chew on instead of hands and furniture. These toys can easily become a comfort item and help curb any potential anxiety as well. Plus, chew toys promote dental health by keeping your puppy’s gums and teeth clean! 

Chase Toys

Golden puppies need to have regular exercise. Ideally, you’ll have two to three 20- to 30-minute exercise and play sessions every day. Chase toys are simple things you can buy at any pet store, like ropes and balls, but some interactive chew toys are designed to add a little zing to your daily play routines. 

Exercise Pen

Even if you’re giving your puppy plenty of playtime outside, exercise or playtime pens are ideal for allowing your puppy to play around freely while you’re busy around the house.

So, for example, if your puppy just woke up from his nap and pottied, but you need to do laundry and load the dishwasher, the exercise pen is a perfect solution. It enables your pup to enjoy safe solo playtime. 

Training Treats

Food is a powerful reinforcer, so treats are incredibly beneficial in the early stages of puppy training.

Not only are treats essential during your short training lessons, but you’ll also see excellent outcomes if you try reinforcing good behaviors with a treat throughout your puppy’s day. Try offering him a treat when he potties outside or uses a chew toy. 

Quick Tip: The treat should be small and chewy so that he can eat it fast and keep his attention on you!

Cleaning Essentials

Golden Retriever Puppy Cleaning

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Carpet Cleaner and Enzyme Spray

Accidents happen, but that doesn’t mean your home needs to suffer because of it! With the proper carpet cleaner and enzyme spray, you can quickly combat any potty mistakes anywhere in the house.

Enzyme sprays are uniquely designed to digest bacterias found in waste, soils, and stains so that they’re easier to consume, and therefore, easier to remove and clean. 

Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

The Retriever family has a unique, double-layered coat designed to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. It also dries quickly after becoming wet. It is such an impressive coat that it is essentially self-cleaning when it comes to dirt and debris.

But even so, it’s still a good idea to help keep your Golden Retriever’s coat clean with the proper dog shampoo. Dog shampoos won’t strip your golden’s coat of its natural oils, and the conditioner will help keep his coat soft, fluffy, and luxurious looking throughout adolescence. 

Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste

You don’t have to brush your puppy’s teeth every day as you would yours, but it’s a good idea to introduce the routine when he is between six and eight weeks old. He’s more likely to get used to it later down the line if you start early.

Brushing your dog’s teeth will help avoid major dental problems like periodontal disease, which affects more than two-thirds of dogs.

Pooper Scooper and Poop Bags

A pooper scooper is a handy tool that many homeowners with yards find essential. Instead of bending down every time your pup goes, you can use a pooper scooper to clutch onto the waste and quickly throw it in your outside garbage bin.

When you’re on a walk, poop bags are crucial. They are also expected as a common courtesy to other people outside. In some areas, it’s illegal under the Pooper Scooper Law not to pick up your dog’s waste! 

Grooming Wipes and Brush

Goldens have such luxurious coats that they’ll need to be groomed with a slicker brush, metal comb, and undercoat rake every one to two weeks to avoid painful matting. 

These brushes are essential for a golden retriever’s coat since they get into both the top and bottom layers. In between, you can keep your puppy’s coat comfortable, shiny, and tangle-free with a soft brush and daily brushing.

Grooming wipes can also be helpful if your puppy rolled around in some dirt that just won’t come out. 

How to Puppy Proof Your Home

Puppies are like toddlers: They’re curious and will get into just about anything. Test this out by leaving a cabinet or door open that you usually wouldn’t, and you’ll see just how quickly you hear the pitter-pattering of your puppy’s paws.

So before your English Cream Golden puppy comes home, be sure that your home, backyard, and car are puppy-safe and puppy-proofed. Here’s what you’ll need to do.

In the Home:

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  • Keep the toilet lid closed. Believe it or not, open toilet lids have the potential to be drowning hazards. And even if your Retriever puppy is too big to fit inside, it’s still a good idea to keep the toilet lid closed to prevent a nasty toilet water-drinking habit. 
  • Secure medicine and cleaning products. You already know that puppies are naturally curious and like to chew on just about anything they can get their paws on, so it’s essential to keep medicine and cleaning products safely locked up, especially since these are hazardous materials. Keep these products high up or use childproof locks and latches on lower cabinets. 
  • Garbage should be kept lidded and secure. Lidded, secured bins are the best type of garbage cans you can have with a young puppy. Not only do you want to avoid spilled garbage, but a locked lid will prevent your puppy from getting into any potential hazards. 
  • Hide electrical cords and blind cords. Exposed electrical cords and long blind cords can prove to be fatal for curious puppies. Keep electrical cords hidden away, buy cord wraps to keep them safely covered, and be sure that your blind cords are tied high and inaccessible.
  • Invest in a pet or baby gate. Gates can be used for doorways or staircases to keep your puppy away from certain areas of the house. Many families use gates for the first few months of a puppy’s life so that they can fall into a routine easier and keep a close eye on them as they’re potty-training and more eager to chew on foreign objects. 

In the Backyard: 

Golden Retriever Puppy Playing

  • Be careful of plants and landscaping that may be poisonous or dangerous. Many plants are toxic to dogs, so be sure to triple-check if any are growing in your yard. Remove problematic plants by their roots, or work with an expert gardening service that can help better ensure your pup’s safety.
  • Secure your yard with fencing and add gates around bodies of water. If you plan to let your puppy roam freely in your backyard, you should have complete fencing with no puppy-sized gaps around the perimeter of the property. If you have any ponds or pools, block them off with appropriate fencing to avoid accidental drowning.
  • Keep your yard landscaped and manicured. Long grass and brushy areas can invite ticks, which can be extremely dangerous if any potential bites are not discovered early on. Generally speaking, your grass should not be higher than a couple of inches and potentially even shorter while your puppy is still young.

In the Car: 

2 Puppies

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  • Move any chewable items and lock loose items in the glovebox. Maybe you forgot that snack pouch or loose chapstick rolling around the backseat, but your puppy won’t! If you plan to put your Golden Retriever puppy in your car, even on occasion or just once when you’re picking them up from your breeder, double-check for loose, chewable items and garbage. 
  • Confine your puppy in one area of the vehicle, like the backseat. Keeping your puppy confined to one area of the car is safe for everyone. It’s also a good habit to instill early on. Many puppy parents choose harness seat belts and car seats for younger dogs, while older dogs are big enough to safely sit in the back seat or trunk with cargo barriers. As your Golden Retriever gets older, you may find yourself opting for different barrier methods that will better suit his size.
  • Kennel your puppy while in the car. Crating your puppy is the safest mode of transportation while in the car. It ensures that he is not getting into anything he shouldn’t be, and in the event of an unforeseen accident, your puppy will not fall or be projected from their seat. 

Deciding on a Daily Routine

Like children, puppies thrive on a fixed routine because an orderly one instills structure and confidence. Sticking to a schedule can also help reinforce potty training and prevent behavioral issues, like separation anxiety and barking or whining. 

It’s a good idea to map out and plan your puppy’s daily routine before he even comes home. This way, you’re not wondering what should happen next, and you can begin enforcing the schedule on day one. Think of a schedule that works best for your puppy, which should include:

  • Feeding: Pick out regular meal times and stick to them as closely as possible. Golden Retriever puppies will need three daily feedings until they are six months old. After that, stick to feeding twice a day at the same time each day. Fixed meal times will help you predict when your puppy needs to potty each day, which better ensures easier potty training.
  • Scheduled potty breaks: Take your puppy out to the yard or on a walk to potty immediately after a meal and after they wake up to enforce a schedule that will help with house training.
  • Playtime and exercise: Playing and mental stimulation are key to a happy puppyhood. Even though they will mellow out in personality as they become adults, Retriever puppies are high energy!
  • Naps and bedtime: Puppies sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, so it’s important to plan on quiet nap times. Place the dog crate in a quiet part of the house since we kennel train at Snowy Pines, and it helps ensure their safety and comfort. However, don’t feel the need to ask other household members to be quiet during these hours: Puppies need to get used to normal everyday sounds. Plus, if they’re ever boarded in a kennel, they’ll be familiar with the noises throughout the day and night.

Here’s a good sample schedule for most Golden Retriever puppies:


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    • 7 a.m.: Wake up, potty, feed breakfast, play with toys 
    • 8 a.m.: Potty and naptime 
    • 9 a.m: Potty, play, play with toys 
    • 10:30 a.m.: Potty and naptime
    • Noon: Potty, lunch, play, and exercise outside 
    • 2 p.m.: Potty and naptime
    • 3 p.m.: Potty, play outside, take a walk, play with toys
    • 4:30 p.m.: Potty and naptime
    • 5:30 p.m.: Potty, feed dinner, play outside, play with toys, practice training 
  • 6:30 p.m.: Ensure that puppy drinks the last of his water so he can empty his bladder before bed 
    • 7:30 p.m. (or whenever bedtime is, but be sure it’s consistent every day): Potty and bed in the crate 
  • 9:00 to 10:00 p.m.: Offer puppy a final potty break before you go to bed
  • Throughout the night: All puppies have equally small bladders, so even though your golden retriever will grow to be up to 70 pounds, your puppy will need to use the potty every one to two hours throughout the night. Set an alarm so that you don’t wake up with whines and cries. 

Puppy Checklist, Part Two: When Puppy Comes Home

You’ve spent weeks preparing your home for your new Golden Retriever puppy’s arrival with all the right gear, toys, proofing, and routine-making. And now is the exciting part: Your puppy is finally home!

But now what? It’s time to focus on helping your puppy adjust to their new home and schedule through socialization, training, and setting up essential services like vets, groomers, and dog sitters. 

Puppy Socialization

Socialization is vital for young puppies, especially between 8 to 16 weeks of age: A well-socialized puppy will grow into a happy and confident adult that feels secure in various situations. 

During your Golden Retriever puppy’s first few days in the home, it’s best to allow him to meet any people or animals that will be sharing the house. For example, even if your cat has plans to hide, it’s a good idea to let the puppy see and smell the cat so that it becomes familiar. 

You can also invite friends and family over to meet the puppy. In this case, more is always merrier! To help your puppy feel comfortable around humans in general, expose him to different types of people when he is still young. (This doesn’t mean that your puppy needs to meet every person they come in contact with since you want to avoid pulling from you every time they see somebody new.)

For example, if you don’t have kids in your household, try to spend time with your friends or family members who have children so your puppy becomes accustomed to little ones.

And, since you shouldn’t bring your puppy into public places until he’s fully vaccinated, hanging out with friends and family in the yard is the next best thing. We also recommend holding off on public settings like dog parks until your puppy is settled into his new home and routine so as to not overwhelm him.

Once your puppy is vaccinated, you can consider signing him up for puppy socialization classes. These classes allow him to meet other puppies, where he’ll also be taught proper etiquette for interacting with strangers.

These classes, alongside training courses, can help prepare your pup for a long walk or a day at doggy day camp.

Training Techniques

Training is just as essential as early socialization. Without training, your puppy won’t learn his place in your family. He may become disruptive and exhibit poor behaviors like jumping on visitors, chewing on furniture, and barking incessantly, among other frustrating challenges. Your puppy may also struggle with separation anxiety.

There are many online resources, like AKC’s Puppy Training Guide or Snowy Pines’ Puppy Training Guide, that you can use to help train your puppy from the day he comes home. Here’s what you can expect in terms of training throughout your puppy’s first year: 

9 to 12 weeks

Your Golden puppy will be anywhere between 12 to 22 pounds. They will comprehend basic commands and learn things such as his name, housebreaking, and early manners. 

At this point, you’ll have just brought your puppy home, so you must reinforce your role as his family and play as much as you can with him. If you’re interested in enrolling your puppy in some socialization activities or a kindergarten training class, this is a good time to do so.

13 to 16 weeks

At this age, your Golden Retriever puppy will be anywhere between 20 to 40 pounds. They will be able to take on more advanced training and commands, and they should understand what good dog manners are. This age is essential when it comes to instilling how you want him to behave through adolescence. 

Puppies will begin teething at this point. Your new puppy might use anything possible to exercise his teeth, so you must start teaching him not to use your hand or furniture as chew toys.

Anytime your puppy chews on something undesirable, have a toy nearby to put in his mouth instead. You can also try using bitter apple spray to deter biting and chewing on household items.

At this age, your puppy will look to you and determine if you’re his pack leader. Be firm but loving with clear, consistent commands and 15-minute training sessions each day. 

Quick Tip: Keep in mind that at this age, this is when the key socialization period ends for your puppy: From this point forward, everything your puppy has learned will influence the way he behaves around people and other animals.

16 to 24 weeks

As your Golden puppy gets older, they will begin developing a better understanding of your family’s social structure. He will be able to understand all commands if you’ve been training your puppy consistently.

While this is good, this age will also be a challenge because he will try to determine his ranking in the household, which can be frustrating when hormones play a role!

Although spaying and neutering are standard for most breeds around six months old, studies have found that doing so for Golden Retrievers can actually increase the risk for joint disorders. Therefore, the standard for this breed has recently changed, and many vets suggest waiting to spay or neuter until 12 to 24 months.

6 to 12 months

At this age range, your puppy is now an adolescent. You’ll notice that he is still bursting with energy and testing his boundaries, so be sure to continue your socialization and training efforts well into adulthood. As they say, it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

Training can be an overwhelming process, which is why many Golden puppy owners opt for working with a dog trainer or enrolling in training classes. Snowy Pines offers three levels of training when adopting one of their golden retrievers, which can save you tons of time and frustration in the long run.

Line Up Essential Services

Take some time to research essential local services with people and companies you can trust for your puppy’s first checkups. (At your first checkup, you can also ask about getting your puppy microchipped!). You’ll also want to find reputable groomers, sitters, trainers, and so on. Here’s who you should have on-hand:

  • Veterinarian
  • Dog trainer
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet sitter
  • Dog walker
  • Dog groomer 

If you’re unsure how to find trustworthy vets, groomers, trainers, or dog walkers, you can start by checking verified websites that do in-depth background checks for you. Your research method should be similar to what you do when searching for a reputable breeder. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What do the reviews and testimonials say? 
  • How long has this person been in business? 
  • Can I do a meet-and-greet with them first? 

Popular websites that are accredited and trusted for their background checks include The American Kennel Club, Rover, and And as always, you can find some of the best in the business by asking who your friends and family trust for their pups too. 

Do Your Research: Important Things to Consider 

Unfortunately, not all breeders are the same. Many breeders out there don’t prioritize their dogs’ health and happiness and are simply in the industry to make money. 

But good breeders care about their puppies and will be certified, offer a guarantee or return policy, request an in-person interview, and be open to contact after you’ve brought your puppy home. 

What Credentials Does the Breeder Have?

Good breeders care about their puppies even after they leave their homes. They will want to stay in contact and offer advice for months (and maybe years) to come. 

A good, qualified breeder will also have the appropriate credentials. Some standard certifications include: 

  • Commercial or Hobby Breeder Licensing (APHIS)
  • The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
  • The American Kennel Club (AKC)

Most states don’t require breeders to register for a kennel permit unless there are five or more dogs, and in Arkansas, there is no specific law at all. 

However, Snowy Pines strives to be the best, which is why they are registered with the AKC and also have OFA Hip and Elbows certifications that check the full genetic panel for diseases such as CNM, CY, DM, EIC, HNPK, HUU, PKD, PRA-prcd, and SD2. 

These health tests are critical for golden retrievers since many are born with genetic or crippling joint diseases

What Is the Breeder’s Guarantee Policy?

A breeder’s guarantee policy will be outlined and stated in the breeder contract. Most contracts will note whether the puppy is of “pet quality” or “show quality,” ask that you get the puppy spayed or neutered once sexually mature, and offer return-to-breeder clauses and health guarantees.

These clauses and guarantees allow families to return their puppies in case of genetic illness or defectiveness. Some breeders guarantee against all congenital disabilities, while others may include specific ailments like heart problems or hip dysplasia.

Many breeders offer a 48- to 72-hour window for you to go to a certified vet and receive written confirmation that something is wrong. 

All breeders should provide a contract and guarantee of some sort, but none of these documents are the same. As mentioned, some guarantees are more flexible than others.

Snowy Pines, for example, offers a complete replacement guarantee against genetic defects for up to five years. Offering such a robust guarantee shows how much Snowy Pines is confident in the health of its pups. Most breeders won’t do this, so don’t assume a breeder goes this far without checking their policy details.

Did the Breeder Request a Meeting and Interview? 

A good breeder will ask you questions. In fact, they’ll ask you lots of questions.

Passionate breeders want to be sure that their puppies are going to good homes and will be taken care of for years to come. It’s not uncommon for them to request that you come to visit their facilities in person and conduct an interview so they can get to know you better. 

Some common questions may include: 

  • Why do you want a dog? 
  • Do you have the time to meet your puppy’s needs? 
  • What is your daily work or school schedule like? 
  • Who is responsible for this dog’s care? 

Additionally, visiting the facility in person will give you a good idea of how the breeder takes care of its dogs. A healthy kennel should be clean, have dog-friendly flooring, plenty of pens, fresh water, and staff members actively on the scene. There should also be plenty of ventilation, doors, and windows.

Snowy Pines’ facility is located on a 120-acre property in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. They encourage visitors at any time so that prospective families can see just how they operate, even behind closed doors.

Can You Contact the Breeder After Adoption?

If you’ve ever bought a pet from the store or adopted from a shelter, it’s normal to walk out with your new pet and never be in contact with the store or shelter owners again. It can be difficult for these organizations to keep up with every adopted-out animal. 

But breeders, on the other hand, are in the business of preserving bloodlines and creating healthy dogs, so they should treat their puppies like family long after they’ve been brought home.

A good breeder should always be happy to provide advice or answer questions or concerns in the weeks to months, or even years, after bringing your new puppy home.

Snowy Pines stays in contact with all families after their puppies have been brought home. In fact, our customer communications specialist, Julia, routinely reaches out to new customers 2 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 1 month after taking home their new family member to offer support and answers to any questions or concerns! 

Whether it’s a question about their routine a week later or a holiday card sent around Christmastime, Snowy Pines is more than happy to see how their puppies are doing years later.

Learn more about how breeders take care of their puppies by researching the facility and reading customer reviews. The more you know, the more confident you can feel about the breeder you choose to adopt your new puppy from. 

Every year, the pet adoption rate seems to keep growing: From 2016 to 2020, there was an average annual growth rate of 24%. And it should come as no surprise that many families are looking for golden retrievers, who are one of America’s most loyal, intelligent, calm, and gentle dogs. 

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There are few more exciting things than when you decide to add a Golden Retriever puppy to your family! This life-long commitment will bring you years of joy and companionship.


Before adopting your new Golden Retriever, it’s essential to start on the right foot by doing research and following an extensive new puppy checklist.

After you’ve done your puppy research, one of the best ways to start right is to work with a reputable breeder. Quality breeders are not always easy to come by, so be sure to read reviews, meet the breeders in person, tour their facility, and check their credentials. 

At Snowy Pines, we pride ourselves on being the best of the best. We are a family-run, fully-certified breeding facility with generations of experience, and we always welcome visitors to explore our 120-acre Ozark property. 

If you’re looking for a healthy, socialized, and sweet golden retriever puppy, then look no further. There is no doubt that Snowy Pines has the perfect puppy for your family. Contact us for more information or learn more about our English Cream Golden Retriever puppies today.

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About the Author


Tom Massey

Tom Massey has owned and operated Snowy Pines Labradors for over a decade. They have become the leaders in English Labradors in the US. He and his team serve customers all over the US and Europe. They house their "dog family" in a state of the art facility on a large farm in the Ozark Mountains. With an obsession for genetics and temperament they raise and train dogs known across the globe for health and personality. Tom serves the pet industry in many forms campaigning for ethical breeding, training, and pet ownership.


Calm Tempered, AKC Purebred, and Certified Genetics.